DODDS teacher suspended amid accusation
April 4, 2009
An elementary schoolteacher in Rota, Spain, has been placed on administrative leave following allegations of "inappropriate physical contact" with one of his students, according to Department of Defense Dependents Schools officials.
Two additional, similar allegations have been made against the teacher since the initial complaint was lodged in February, DODDS spokeswoman Maggie Menzies said this week. Those allegations are under investigation.
The name of the teacher, who has taught at David Glasgow Farragut Elementary School for 32 years, has not been released.
DODDS officials and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service refused to provide specifics on the allegations.
Base officials said a complaint was made by the parents of a third-grade student on Feb. 27. The teacher was immediately removed from the classroom, according to Mary Simmons, the school principal, in a letter she sent to parents March 20, notifying them of the allegations.
The third-grade student’s father, Robert Wood, sent an e-mail to DODDS Europe Director Diana Ohman, a week after making the initial complaint, saying he was concerned about how the case would be handled. Wood wrote that "my 8-year-old daughter’s teacher has been putting his hands down her pants and up her shirt rubbing her bare skin," according to a copy of the e-mail. "I want him to be terminated for cause as I am certain this is not sanctioned behavior for teachers."
Efforts Friday to contact the teacher were unsuccessful.
On March 19, a base Family Advocacy Program committee reviewed the findings from the initial NCIS investigation, and determined that while "the incidents of touching did occur and that these behaviors were inappropriate ... they do not meet the criteria for child sexual abuse…" according to a letter sent from the base command to the Wood family.
Wood said he was disappointed in the committee’s finding, adding that he didn’t understand why the teacher’s alleged actions didn’t qualify as sexual abuse.
"We’re planning to contest these findings," Wood said. "What definition did the committee use?"
In its findings, the committee cited a Navy instruction [OPNAVINST 1752.2B] which offers a broad definition of sexual abuse to include "Sexual activity with a child for the purpose of sexual gratification of the alleged offender…." The instruction also says abuse includes child exploitation.
Additionally, the DOD further defines sexual assault to include "unwanted, inappropriate sexual contact or fondling." DODDS officials would not comment on the findings of the committee’s report, citing privacy concerns.
The teacher is no longer allowed on school grounds during school hours, according to Menzies. No other base restrictions have been placed on the teacher, according to base officials.
Wood said he remains concerned about the teacher’s proximity to schoolchildren.
"The teacher currently lives on base in military housing directly across from the elementary school," Wood said.
Once the current investigation surrounding the new allegations is complete, the FAP committee will again meet. The DODDS Mediterranean District superintendent, Elizabeth Walker, will discuss the findings with legal officials and union representatives to decide what, if any action to take. This process can take up to 45 days.
"We encourage parents to talk to their children often about their relationships with others, and if their child alleges improper behavior by an adult, to tell their parents, or report it to a school administrator, Family Advocacy, a chaplain, security or NCIS," Menzies said. "These allegations will be investigated immediately and thoroughly."